Barbara Ofwono; founder of Victorious Education Services set to bag 2018 United Nation’s Women in Business Award

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Barbara Ofwono Buyondo, the proprietor of Victorious Education Services has been named among the finalists of 2018 Empretec Women in Business Awards.
Empretec is a flagship capacity-building programme of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) for the promotion of entrepreneurship and micro, small and medium sized enterprises to facilitate sustainable development and inclusive growth.

The Winner will be named at World Investment Forum in October 2018. Taking place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland

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The awards celebrate exceptional businesswomen who have become role models for their outstanding achievements in running micro and small businesses.

More than 50 nominations were submitted by Empretec centers from 19 countries. The 10 finalists were selected by a panel of experts based on the innovation, leadership and impact on their communities the nominees demonstrated.

read:Andrew Rugasira and the struggling Good African Coffee: Bad luck or what?

The 2018 finalists

Rosana Marques (Brazil): Ouseuse, swimwear and lingerie, Rocio Castro Fernandez (Ecuador): Momoa, clothes for breastfeeding mothers, Ndey Fatou Njie (The Gambia): TiGA, swimwear products and Chandra Vadhana (India): Skill development, training, assessments and human resources consulting

others are: Lama Sha’sha’a (Jordan): International Robotics Academy, education for 6–16-year-olds in robotics and science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Uneiza Ali lssufo (Mozambique): ConsMoz Lda – Building Mozambique Limited, construction and Barbara Ofwono Buyondo (Uganda): Victorious Education Services, kindergarten through primary school education

Also on the list is; Ana de León (Uruguay): Ruta 10 Upcycling, up-cycling design company (bags, accessories from recycled materials), Rina Arráez (Venezuela): Inversiones Alces 1012 C.A., handmade accessories from recycled materials and lastly, Leah Diana Mitaba (Zambia): Butterfly Initiatives, cooperative for the production of vegetables and fruits

the winner and two runners-up will win the chance to attend an executive course in digital marketing by IMD Lausanne, mentoring by the MBA Business School in Grenoble, France, and a watch by Delance of Switzerland among other gifts. Empretec’s core product is the Entrepreneurship Training Workshop (ETW), which aims to foster the motivation and self-confidence of participants who have chosen to start or expand their businesses.

About Barbara Buyondo and Victorious Education Services
Dr. Barbara is a passionate entrepreneur and a senior Educationist who graduated with a degree, a post graduate degree in Education and Management/Honorary PHD.
She is a member of various organizations in Uganda, The Uganda Women’s Entrepreneur’s Association Limited (UWEAL); International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW-KAMPALA); Y-Save multipurpose cooperative society Ltd, she is the chairperson of Y-Save estates investment club, Member of Smart Money Mums investment club; she is an alumni of The Institute of National transformation and also an entepreco – Enterprise Uganda.
In 1998, Ms Barbara Ofwono Buyondo got her first set after a kindergarten, which she had helped to found was sold off.
“It was not easy, but I had to take the right step and that is how I reached the decision to form my own kindergarten,” Ms Buyondo told Daily Monitor in reference for a decision she took in 1999 to start a kindergarten, which was housed in a three-bedroom house in Old Kampala.

Ms Buyondo revealed that Initially she would pay Ugx.150,000 in rent every month using money mobilised from family and friends. From here Buyondo and two others fostered a kindergarten that would later see the birth of Victorious Education Service. 18 years later, the business is worth more than eight billion.
From just 30 children, five staff, the business has grown to boost of more than 4,000 pupils spread on four different campuses [Namirembe road, Ntinda and Mukono] generating an annual turnover of over five billion. The schools employ more than 400 people. From small kindergarten, occupying rented rooms, the school has grown both in influence and as a key business model.
She says, her biggest achievement is managing to touch the life of more than 5,000 pupils that have passed through Victorious Education Services.
Victorious Education Service has massively expanded but maintains a high value service chain that is not but limited to providing a pick and drop bus service.

The business has also been recognized for its impactful role, winning the Investor of the Year award in 2012 and the 2012-13 Top 100 midsized company’s award.
The mother of four says the success has been built on passion, taking advantage of her profession – teaching and taking cautious steps, especially in regard to handling money.
Ms Buyondo reveals that she never listens to negative energy as many people who tried to discourage her in the early days. She also says she does not fear risks, most especially when they are viable ventures that can move her business to the next level.

What she says
How are your product/services unique from other businesses?
a. We are a value based organization that nurtures values and skills. Our education is holistic; a child is nurtured well in all aspects including developing the reasoning and cognitive, the heart, someone’s attitude, we help them to develop their attitude and to know that they are very important. Help them to develop a positive relationship with God. We also help to develop the children skills and passion through their natural abilities and activities like clubs. We expose them to many things like MDD, Sports, drama, clubs, as they do those things you start seeing interests and attributes come out.

b. Then the other thing unique about us is the care. Our children talk well of our institution, and people say It seems we train our children to be marketers, but when you take good care of somebody, they will never forget you. Because of our care, we realized some parents could not bring kids on time, and we asked parents if they could allow us to transport their children so that they can go home early, come to school early.
c. Then we also involve and engage the stakeholders in our organizations, like the parents. In Mukono when we started we did not go to benchmark to any other boarding school, we needed a boarding school which is a home away from home because you find the child is with you most of the time in the year. We got advice from the parents and pupils and they have continuously enabled us to keep on changing and offer what is relevant for them.

How have you managed to stay in business amidst competition?
a. We believe in raising a God fearing generation, because we know it brings impact on the future of the child, so parents have loved that; because we are a God fearing school.
b. We are consistent in our service, we don’t care today and tomorrow we have forgotten. We have had so many schools come to learn from us but that doesn’t make us feel, that we have reached. We keep asking ourselves, where we aren’t doing well so that we can do so much better than what we have, so continuous improvement has really helped us.

c. Because of our service, we have repeat customer and referrals, we started spreading the news of wholesome education, at first it was not really what people loved. Most of the parents were looking only at good grades minus what else can a child do and the character. After seeing what our model was, most parents have now known our value and you find that we have from first born to last born. We were the first school to stand on the road and hug as a way of greeting so for all these years we still hug our children and this is the unique care we give to our children which we also encourage parents to do back home. That is our culture.

read: Why Ugandan entrepreneurs are selling their businesses to foreign firms

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